Uzbekistan’s foreign minister, Abdulaziz Kamilov, as part of a two-day trip to Pakistan held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during which the prospect of Pakistan’s Karachi and Gwadar ports becoming “the gateway to landlocked Central Asia as Pakistan provides the Central Asian republics the shortest route to international seas” was discussed, according to Khan’s office.
Pakistan, according to Khan, would facilitate Uzbekistan’s access to the ports.
Gwadar on the Arabian Sea is under development in a joint project run by China and Pakistan. Not far along the coast, in Iran on the Sea of Oman, is Chabahar, a rival port being jointly developed by India and Iran, which is likewise being offered to Central Asian countries as a hub for trade flows.
Uzbekistan is working with Pakistan on the Trans-Afghan railway project and a road route via China.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in Tashkent in February signed a roadmap for the construction of a railway line of 600km running from Mazar-i-Sharif to Kabul to Peshawar. The project, which is expected to take five years to complete, has an estimated cost of $4.8bn and enjoys the backing of international lenders including the World Bank.
Khan welcomed the proposed Trans-Afghan railway project and underscored Pakistan’s commitment to supporting all efforts for the earliest realisation of this important connectivity project.
Kamilov extended an invitation to Khan and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to participate in the Central Asia-South Asia Connectivity Conference to be held in Tashkent in July.
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